What Is Shared Hosting?
Posted by Daniel Naval, Last modified by Daniel Naval on 06 May 2019 08:58 PM
When you’re ready to launch your own website, you’ll have to start by finding a web hosting provider to carry your site’s files and pages on an internet server so that it’s available to visitors around the world 24/7. The most common and most affordable type of hosting plan is shared hosting. To keep rates affordable, your host will allot a limited amount of server resources, so that multiple clients share the cost of maintaining the server. If you have limited funds or minimal requirements, shared hosting may be your best option.
What is Shared Hosting?
As you explore the potential in different web hosting companies, you’ll find that most if not all of them provide shared hosting solutions. It’s the most affordable way to go, but it depends entirely on how much disk storage and bandwidth the host allows.
You site remains separate from others and only you can access it. You’ll be able to publish and manage your own pages as you like, but you’ll also have a fixed amount of disk space. That will limit the size of the files, applications, and databases you need to support your website and your visitor activity.
“Shared” means your website will exist on the same server along with other client sites, sometimes hundreds of others. All of you will be competing for the same resources. For example, when another site’s traffic takes a dramatic upturn, they may be using enough server bandwidth so that your own site’s performance is affected.
Although shared hosting by definition comes with restrictions, it’s still the simplest and most affordable way to get your site established online.
How Does Shared Hosting Work?
When you use shared web hosting, the provider takes care of the server maintenance. This is always the case because you don’t have any access to the operating system and the physical server may be halfway across the world. You rely on the host to ensure that the server functions properly.
You only have control over your own website. Typically, you get your own graphical control panel so that you can do tasks such as editing web pages, setting up email accounts, and installing software features. Your host may offer technical support, but you are responsible for managing your own website.
However, you can only use the RAM, processing power, and bandwidth to the limits specified by your host. The host can divide up resources anyway they wish, such as limits of 10 GB or 100 GB for different clients on the same server. You may have the option of upgrading to a hosting plan with additional resources, but you’ll have to pay more.
Think of a shared hosting account like a room in a hotel. Everyone shares common resources like the elevator or electricity, but you get limited private space.
Advantages of Shared Hosting
Having to share essential resources with numerous other customers may not seem like the optimal situation for a website, but it’s the most affordable choice. For small businesses or personal websites, saving money may be the most critical factor. However, there are other advantages to a shared hosting account:
Scalability – Since your host probably has multiple servers, they’ll be able to offer a variety of shared hosting packages with differing limits. As your website expands, you’ll be able to upgrade to a package that offers greater resources. If you’re willing to pay more, the web host will take care of the rest at their end. You can also downsize again if business slows.
Features – The hosting industry is very competitive. Most hosts offer a range of features, such as dedicated databases or content platforms like WordPress ready to install. You will likely get your choice of widgets and add-ons like rotating banner tools or ecommerce shopping carts.
Operational Ease – The host company tries to maintain the best performance they can provide to their customers. You should have access to helpful support teams by phone or email. Highly qualified IT engineers are on staff to monitor the server and correct any issues. Your host will also have effective security in place to safeguard their own network and data centres for better protection of client accounts.
Management Tools – A website hosting provider can’t possibly keep up with hundreds of client changes, so they will make tools available that you can use to manage your site individually. Popular solutions like cPanel or Plesk are visually oriented control dashboards where you simply find and click on the right icon to launch utilities for checking email, installing apps, or checking visitor statistics.
Disadvantages of Shared Hosting
Although the ease and affordability of shared hosting can seem like the right choice when you have only modest hosting needs, it is not the perfect solution. There are drawbacks to a website existing in a shared environment:
Performance – While your web hosting provider may work hard to give you the best possible performance, there’s always the chance that one or more sites running alongside your own may experience traffic spikes or engage in bulk data transfers, which could impact the performance of your own site. There’s also the possibility that some either site owner could introduce a corrupt file or conflicting setting that impacts server operations.
Program Restrictions – Your server will be running a particular operating system that may not be a suitable platform for some applications you want to install. Also, you may find that there are certain programs that are forbidden by your host because of their security or performance issues in a shared environment.
Resource Limitations – When it comes to bandwidth or disk space, in shared hosting environment you’re restricted by certain conditions. If you exceed your allotted resources, you may be charged with unexpected fees. Be sure to choose a web hosting provider that offers transparent pricing, so you can know exactly what to expect.
Security – A shared environment is the least secure hosting option. There is only one operating system and one machine supporting many websites, so that if even one website is infected with a virus due to someone downloading a program or file that’s infected, there’s a chance that the problem could spread, or bring down the entire server.
IP Address – Shared hosting doesn’t allow you a dedicated IP address. A shared address could limit functions like FTP, remote access, and SSL protection.
Alternatives to Shared Hosting
If you decide that shared hosting isn’t right for your website needs, you have other alternatives. This is typically either a virtual private server (VPS) or a dedicated server of your own. Both are higher in price, but you’ll have greater resources and more control over your website’s environment.
A VPS essentially performs as a dedicated server, but within a shared hosting environment. Technically, it’s a combination of both shared hosting and a dedicated server. VPS is something of a compromise.
This technology allows the host to run several different operating systems on the same machine. Your website will have sole use of the OS and it’s associated resources, essentially giving you a smaller virtual server that functions independently of any others.
A VPS gives you many of the benefits of having your own physical server, such as greater control and stability than shared hosting, but at a lower cost.
A dedicated server is a complete physical server that you are leasing for your own exclusive use. No other hosted accounts will exist on it and no other clients will have access to it.
Having your own physical server that you can set up and configure any way you wish gives you total freedom in your hosting environment. You can install any OS and software you want to create a custom experience. Having your own server to use gives you the most secure and stable hosting platform you can get.
A dedicated server is the most costly option, and you should have some solid technical knowledge to set up and manage one. But for larger companies, dedicated hosting gives you the most powerful solution without the expense of buying and maintaining your own server.
Understanding the different options available to you will help you make the right choice for your needs and budget.
In conclusion, shared hosting is the most popular solution when you’re ready to launch your own personal or professional website. It’s always the most affordable option since the provider distributes the cost over all hosting accounts. This means the disk space and resources you can use are limited, but your host company takes care of server management and provides the tools you need to administer your website.
If you have minimal needs or a constrained budget, shared hosting is the right choice. You can find budget hosting plans for as little as a few pounds per month, and you can always upgrade when you’re ready.
Shared hosting is the perfect option for those with minimal website requirements. UKHost4u provides a number of different shared hosting plans that you can easily scale to your needs. Our state-of-the-art UK data centres ensure you get maximum uptime and fast performance no matter which plan you choose. UKHost4u has been a premier web hosting within the UK for years because we never compromise the quality of our services.
If you want to learn more about our hosting packages, please call us at 0330 088 5790 or +44.131 541 23 28 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.